90 percent of US net users don't know from crtl-F

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206 Responses to “90 percent of US net users don't know from crtl-F”

  1. traalfaz says:

    How do you even use a damned computer without ctrl-F?
    I’m not actually surprised though.  Anyone who really knows their way around and has had to endure watching someone using the MOUSE to click “edit….copy”  then “edit…paste” or someone who doesn’t know how to multi-select knows the agony.  It’s very hard to not yell “just get the hell out of the way and let me drive” when it’s clearly going to take FOREVER for them to do whatever it is they’re doing.

  2. rwmj says:

    Young ‘uns.  The right way to search documents is with the forward-slash key …

  3. bcsizemo says:

    That’s not surprising to me.  When I have lengthy discussions with my tech friends (all of whom know about alt-tab, crtl-f) about GUI interfaces and the fact I despise the Vista/7 start menu system, they seem to not care about the lack of efficiency or layout.

    It’s like they have some odd desire to only use what is in front of them, not enhance it/change it.  It’s like someone else knows what is better for how I work than me…  And these people actually build their own computers….seems rather odd to me.

    -Hell it used to be F3 in a lot of programs…appears it still is in Firefox.

  4. Usually when I show the Ctrl-f «trick», it’s the opposite reaction. People look disappointed and say that they prefer to search themselves, by reading the whole page.

    • travtastic says:

      I was in the middle of typing up a comment saying “What the hell do they do then, read the whole page?”

      :(

  5. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    I didn’t know Ctrl/F would do that but I use F3 to find text all the time.  It’s one less keystroke.

  6. Genius Musings says:

    CTRL + (Z,X,C,V,P, TAB & F) seems unknown to most people, The same goes for F1 for help. You would think by this time that F1 would just open a internet search.

  7. Lilah says:

    I must confess. I use ctrl-f multiple times a day, but alt-tab just blew my mind wide open. It’s strange what you know and don’t know.

    • Jaron Hendrix says:

      If you’re using Windows 7 and ALT+TAB blew your mind, try WIN+TAB.

      Also, ALT+SHIFT+TAB will page you through in the opposite order! (As will shift+win+tab)

    • relawson says:

      if alt+tab blew your mind, if using Windows Vista or 7, use the special windows key +tab.

      should put you in a full coma ;)

  8. arikol says:

    The alt-tab thing is, IMO, even worse than either the ctrl-f or the copy/paste thing.

    Working in a windowing system (Mac, Windows, Linux, or others) and not knowing how to switch between windows is just the biggest productivity killer I can imagine.That said, it shouldn’t really be surprising. It’s not exactly visible or shown anywhere that alt-tab does this (or all the other OS specific management tricks).
    Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V are, however, shown in the “Edit” menu on every program people use. And they STILL don’t try it. Wasting their own time when on a tight deadline on doing every action through the menu system….. so frustrating to watch.

  9. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Ctrl/F also works in Adobe Reader and Excel.  A real time saver in big docs.

    • travtastic says:

      Not to mention Find & Replace. Although I prefer SumatraPDF and LibreOffice.

    • cellocgw says:

      Now, really:  -f  works in darn near every app.  Not that windows app writers adhere to SANE rules as much as OSX app writers do.   Take -Q , for example.  All OSX apps use -Q to quit, but even in the allegedly integrated Msoft Office suite,  it’s still the case that -Q works in PPT but not in Excel or Word.   WTF?
      Edit: apparently this blogware thinks my text is tryingto start hypertext formats. sorry…

  10. Mordicai says:

    This is how I feel when I find out that someone isn’t using a feed reader of some kind. 

    “Wait, you don’t use Google Reader?  How do you I don’t even.”

  11. travtastic says:

    http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci826135,00.html

    Edit: Other link was walled off.

  12. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Does anyone not know that Ctrl-Tab switches between panes in the Chrome and FF browsers?

  13. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    And we wonder why so many people think the email promising them untold Nigerian riches might be true.

  14. annoyingmouse says:

    In the last month my workplace got a new computer system in and I’ve been astonished at the keyboard shortcuts people don’t know even when they have no problem dealing with what I see as an awfully overcomplicated system (that’s another story, though).  At the training for it more than one person in a very small group (I think there were 5 people there at the time), all of whom use computers all day long every day, had to have Ctrl-V explained to them. Given that, unlike myself, these people have to use relatively advanced CAD programs everyday, and I might add have done for years, I don’t know how they handle it.  After discovering that the new software had certain keyboard shortcut conflicts with windows (it runs through IE but F11 has a function, well done implementers of that!) , I asked one of the trainers about alt-tab and he looked at me blankly.  Oh dear.

    • LegendofPedro says:

      I’m not surprised that CAD users don’t know many keyboard shortcuts. Have you used SolidWorks recently? Apart from entering dimensions, it’s 90% mouse input, with the occasional shift-/ctrl-click modifier.

      With regards to searching documents, I find I do it so often that a few years ago, I changed Firefox (well, Mozilla Suite at the time, then SeaMonkey, then Firefox) to use the ‘find as I type’ feature with text as well as links. When I want to find something on the page, I just type it. Easy and fast.

  15. sgspires68 says:

    Not surprising. Commonality of “ctrl-f” is just beginning to take hold across a variety of apps. 

  16. Mark McC says:

    ‘/’ is the search key of choice in browsers that aren’t Google. The one that always surprises me is people whose job is 90% typing stuff in Word who’ve never used the various Ctrl/Shift+Cursor key combos to select text. They reach for the mouse each time, or delete blocks of text by sitting on the Backspace key for 10 seconds.

    • Jaron Hendrix says:

      It’s odd that Chrome doesn’t use the forward slash considering that gmail, google calendar, and other offerings do.

  17. @boingboing-2f73168bf3656f697507752ec592c437:disqus : Yes, one less keystroke but you have to change the position of your hands. The function keys aren’t normally part of what you can easily reach with your fingers while typing. So, in general a command sequence (like Cmd+F) let’s you keep the flow.

  18. Most of the time I hear, “there is no manual, how am I supposed to know”.  Of course, if there were, how many would have read it anyway?  There is a lack of a good browser tutorial like the old mouse tutorials in days past.

    I must also say some of these “features” are only readily known to those who learned about them when they were initially introduced…

  19. Twiddle says:

    I’m computer illiterate. Should I sell my laptop and leave the big, bad internets to you techies? Sheesh, lighten up. You don’t educate with sarcasm.

    • travtastic says:

      And you don’t learn by being defensive about needing to learn!

      Not to toot my own horn, but my comment above with the link in it will show you everything you need to know.

      • typhonic says:

        I marked it like.  Strange that there is really on one useful comment in the lot.  I hope a few more people catch it.

    • No need of a manual for those things. All you need is to look at where you click. Those characters on the right side probably mean something? Keystrokes, probably?

    • Jaron Hendrix says:

      It’s 2011.  Computers have been an extremely large part of modern life for quite a while now.  Wearing your illiteracy like a badge and getting knotted up over the disdain of others isn’t going to fix your problem.  It’s going to allow it to persist.

      Ever heard yourself thinking towards another vehicle on the road “Learn how to drive?” or any other similar sentiment in a situation involving common knowledge?  Same thing.

    • Maybe its not about educating you. Maybe its just about expressing surprise that something you thought was common knowledge isnt! Sheesh, lighten up. Its not all about you! :)

    • Aaron Wolfe says:

      To be “computer illiterate” today is to be completely incapable of doing extremely basic things that a vast majority of people take for granted.  it is in many ways more of a handicap than actually being illiterate. 

      If you’re going to play the role of village idiot, I’m afraid you’re just going to have to get used to a bit of ridicule.

    • not everyone is like that, they’re a loud minority actually

    • I’m not a big bad internet techie. I learned my keyboard shortcuts before mice came on the scene and have simply picked up a few new ones along the way. The “you don’t know what you don’t know” thing is scary since if I try to show/tell you you might be insulted – or you could be grateful!

  20. traalfaz says:

    I like finding new key combos.  My newest find is particularly nice since getting a larger widescreen monitor; on Win7, the Windows + arrow keys; up = maximize, down = minimize, left and right scroll between 1/2 screen left justified, most recent partial-screen size/position and 1/2 screen right justified.  You can get the 1/2 screen left/right justified by grabbing the title bar and bashing it into the left or right border too, but that doesn’t work if you have multiple monitors and you want it up against one of the inter-monitor borders.

    • kozjegyzo says:

      Cool… I didn’t know about the bashing thing… you learn something every day. I use Ubuntu and it works here too :) THX

    • kozjegyzo says:

      Cool, the bashing thing was new to me, and it works under Ubuntu as well… you learn something new every day :)

  21. typhonic says:

    That long bar at the bottom separates words and makes them easier to read.  Everyoneshouldlearnhowtouseit.

    • travtastic says:

      Always wondered why they stopped writing ‘Space’ on the thing. I’ve thought it was a wrist rest since ’98.

  22. cleek says:

    my fav: WindowsKey + E

    • danimagoo says:

      I only discovered this one about 2 years ago, and I’ve been using Windows since Windows 3.1. I now use this one at least 5 times a day.

  23. traalfaz says:

    Of course there’s a manual.  Windows help.  If you require it in paper format, then go buy Windows 7 for Dummies (I’m not being condescending here, the “For Dummies” series has some excellent books in it).  But as has been pointed out, people wouldn’t read manuals if they had them.  Heck, people spend $35,000 on a car and never read the manual, I don’t know how many times I’ve told people stuff about their own cars that they didn’t know.

    • WhyBother says:

      Sadly, people don’t read help files anymore. Or release notes. Someone
      saw me open an empty tab then start typing one day. They thought I was
      in the middle of some convoluted method to look busy without being so,
      then the results of the keyword search I’d been entering into the URL
      bar popped up. (Easier to load than a mycroft plugin, works for
      anything that uses a query string.) They had never seen the keywords
      feature before.
      “How long has Firefox had that?”
      “0.9? 0.7? Always.’
      “How did you hear about it?”
      “When I started using Firefox, I read the release notes.”
      “You’re the only one I know ever to do that.” This coming from our software developer.

  24. Rich Samuels says:

    A favourite of mine is ctrl + alt + arrow key (left or right then up to correct). especially useful if lying in bed.

  25. travtastic says:

    Whenever someone asks me a computer question, I tell them to hit Alt+F4 until the problem goes away.

    Or at least I imagine it that way.

  26. Vengefultacos says:

    What’s a crtl-f? My keyboard doesn’t have a crtl key… it’s got a ctrl key, though…

  27. Andrew Clark says:

    Certainly Ctrl-Z deserves a mention, no? I mean “oh no, i didn’t mean to do that” must be one of the more common utterances amongst computer users of all proficiency levels. I’m a fan of Ctrl+ for resizing text in browsers too.

    • travtastic says:

      As long as you’re not in the middle of typing, Ctrl+MouseScroll will probably do it easier.

    • Jaron Hendrix says:

      CTRL+the scrollwheel on a mouse will resize text as well.  Should work with most trackpad scrolls as well.

      • Nadreck says:

        My favourite new toy!  It zooms in on anything on your screen and is generally better for pictures than, say, en-biggening via your browser, as it seems to be hooked up to your graphics hardware in some manner.

  28. drukqs says:

    Ever since I discovered commands like ctrl-F, C, and V in the word processor we used in typing class in grade 7 (on an Amiga!), there was no turning back…

  29. Frank W says:

    You’d be amazed at how much otherwise smart enough people don’t grok about computers. Last week, I helped out a friend of mine with some computer questions when I found out she didn’t have a clue about the file system. I taught her to make a folder and drag items into it. Showed her how all files sat in folders, and folders in folders, on the harddisk, and where the desktop sits in the user folder. And told her to stop thinking of her computer as a glorified typewriter and start thinking of it as a glorified filing cabinet. And she’s not stupid, just over forty like myself.

  30. David Weinstock says:

    I have used ctrl-F all my life, but had never heard of alt-tab! Thank you.

  31. UniAce says:

    Keyboard shortcuts are easily discoverable in Mac OS X. Open any menu, in any application, and keyboard shortcuts are listed right there alongside the commands. Seems like a good solution, but users still need to be trained to understand what the cloverleaf symbol means (it means “command key” or “they key formerly known as the Apple key”).Okay, but there is one obscurity: try holding a menu open and pressing the option key. You may have to try a few different menus before you see the secret.

  32. Brian Easton says:

    Alt-tab? I’m more of a Windows Key-Tab kind of guy.

  33. Nikolaj Mariager says:

    The one I’ve impressed most people with is Windows+Pause/Break. People always seem to spend time trying to find their device manager or system information, and that makes that shortcut a time saver. Especially if you do tech support on various computers. Also, people seem to mention Alt+Tab, but no one mentions Alt+Shift+Tab to go in the other direction.

    • elix says:

      Consider me impressed. I did not know about Winkey+Pause.

      Some of my favourites for the lesser-known key combos for Windows is ctrl+esc as a feature clone of the Winkey to bring up the Start menu, in case you’re using a keyboard that doesn’t feature the Win95-and-newer meta keys. And likewise ctrl+shift+escape brings up Task Manager directly (instead of ctrl+alt+del and then choosing it a la WinXP onwards).

      I hope everyone knows that in Windows, Winkey+R is the Run menu since forever. Also, if you need to quickly lock your desktop (work, meddling kids), Winkey+L. At my last job at a call center, we were supposed to do this every time we got up from our computers due to confidentiality, and this was an actual rule, but even after being taught how, a good 50% of the agents, their supervisors, and the supervisors’ managers didn’t do it, so unsurprisingly the rule was entirely toothless.

  34. stuck411 says:

    “You don’t know what you have until you lose it. You don’t know what you didn’t have until it arrives.”

    For a good chunk of the population’s PC skills are self taught. Things get picked up as they’re needed or observed. The GUI is greatly relied upon because for the general population it’s seldom that you need to be a guru in one particular program. (Yes, many of the shortcut keys work across programs but I’ve known keyboard shortcut artists who are clueless about the upgrades & potential of their current program. They might as well have been using the first generation of it for all of their knowledge.) Agreed, some people are horrible when it comes to efficiency with a PC, I’ve wished the painful death of many of them myself, but in the end how are they suppose to learn if not taught?

  35. papercup mixmaster says:

    I’m really not surprised by a figure like this anymore. The vast portion of people I witness interacting with computers look like they have hams strapped to the fingers. But a piece of this did blow my mind – people not only don’t know about ctrl-f/f3, but they don’t know that you _can_ search a page? I’ve at least witnessed most people looking for a menu option (then chrome stumps them). 

    I am continually astonished by people mucking through menus again and again to cut/copy/paste, though.

    My favorite, with which I seem to have surprised quite a few: ctrl+shift+T opens the last-closed tab in FF and Chrome (probably others at this point).

  36. shannigans says:

    I learned about many of these shortcuts like alt-tab while covertly searching the internet at work.  If you’re less inclined to improperly use company resources these are things you may never learn.  Hmm…maybe I should say that I was improving productivity skills, not just loling at cats.

  37. peromyscus says:

    Ctrl-f is useful, but it’s not as useful as reading the whole page, so I can see where the people mentioned above are coming from. You can make many a dumb assumption using “find”. A canonical example is the evolution of the eyeball. Yes, Charles Darwin said it seemed absurd in the highest degree to think the eye had developed by natural selection (ctrl-c…ctrl-v…done!) however the next three pages (in The Origin of Species) describe why it isn’t actually absurd.

  38. Thorzdad says:

    Geeks still amazed other 90% of people aren’t exactly like them. Film at 11.

  39. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    Real geeks use GREP

    • Yeah traditionally I had coded with nedit and a shell terminal, plus some extensions which combine grep -n with nedit backlighting. Its a sweet setup but now I am being made to use eclipse. Its a dog to use. People say that it should be easy because its all graphical but it seems to have ten million keyboard shortcuts and that is how the power users drive it.

      I would much rather have human readable shell commands with command recall and tab completion than invisible, non repeatable one key commands. When I have a problem a more experienced person jumps on to my box, bashes away with shortcut keys for a minute and I am none the wiser about how the problem was fixed.

      Shortcut keys work around the limitations in graphical user interfaces.

  40. mike k says:

    Alt-F4 is my favorite. 

  41. Macgruder says:

    More of command TAB:
    command – TAB (then Q to Quit, H to hide while keeping hold of the command key; tilde: ~ to reverse)

    Drag a file, then command – TAB as you do so to bring Mail say to the front, then drop the file into a new message. command – ~ to rotate through Windows
    ESC to cancel an operate as you do it. Useful when you are moving a file and change your mind
    command – period is also a universal stop.

    command – h to hide,command-option-h to hide others. (I often see people moving 10 windows out the way then moving them back)

    Drag the little icon in a window bar to place it into a mail etc. Command click it to go through its hierarchy. 

    These are for a Mac; not sure how well the above work on Windows.

  42. I work in a newspaper office with older Macs, and I still make peoples’ brains explode with F9.

  43. slab99_99 says:

    I used to use a lot of keyboard shortcuts because I was uncomfortable using the mouse. Then came the internet, and I’ve never looked back.

  44. Hey, you learn something new every day!

  45. Xandrae says:

    I like how they spell it “Crtl” twice, including the freaking title.

  46. “It strikes me that we could probable come up with a list of ten (or even three) things you could teach to the people around you the next time you sit down to help them with a technology problem”

    not ashamed to say, I’d really like that list… 

  47. cocktailsfor2 says:

    We don’t know what we don’t know until we find out that we didn’t know it.

  48. querent says:

    I really like ctrl-alt-fn (where n = 1,…,6) in linux to jump to another tty when yer gui is bugging.  run top or htop or something to kill the rogue process then ctrl-alt-f7 to get back to the desktop tty.

  49. Blackbird says:

    I actually prefer to ‘manually’ search the page with my eyes for most pages.  Though I do find Ctrl-F very very useful when searching records or transcripts or similar things.

    I’m surprised that this hasn’t been posted yet:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHfAiZQ5p70&feature=player_detailpage#t=12s
    Homer uses a computer.

  50. Omar Bsharat says:

    Because it’s older than God, Blackbird.

    Do Windows key + Tab if you’re on Vista or 7. Yeah, that’s what I looked like too when I did it by accident.

  51. Gaspard Gazule says:

    I never never never use keyboard shortcuts. Always use menus. And will continue to behave this way. Whatever you say.

  52. Stephen M says:

    alt-F …. pfft, 
    Many Window users orgasm when you demonstrate that the PrtSC (Print Screen) key puts a screen shot into the clipboard ready for pasting into a graphic app like MSPAINT,… esp when they normal go downloading a bloatware application to achieve the same thing.  

  53. Noodle says:

    Windows 7 has a ton of new hacks. One I’ve not seen mentioned is when several windows are open, grabbing a window and shaking it will minimise all other windows but the one you shake. Shaking it again will restore them!

  54. Pasketti says:

    TAB by itself will jump to the next field on a web page.  Shift-TAB will jump back to the previous field.

    On a Windows command line, TAB will do filename completion.  Type the first few characters, then hit TAB and it will complete the rest.  If it’s the wrong one, hit TAB again to go to the next one.  This has been a feature of *nix forever, but a lot of people don’t know that Windows does it too.

    When dragging files to another folder, if you press CTRL while dragging, it will copy the files.  If you press SHIFT while dragging, it will move the files.  If you press ALT while dragging, it will create a shortcut. The default is to copy if it’s going to a seperate drive and move if it’s to the same drive.  Easy way to remember: CTRL and COPY both start with C.

  55. jorgeegomez says:

    There’s something few people mention: Microsoft (in its infinite ‘wisdom’) decided to change the familiar Ctrl-F (and other key shortcuts, like Ctrl-S) according to the language of the OS. Thus in a spanish-language version of MS Office or IE you have to use Ctrl-B to search, and Ctrl-G to save.

    Since Firefox and most other software still follows the Ctrl-F convention, these key shortcuts are all but unusable: they change from app to app according to the developer’s whim!
     
    (Ctrl-X,Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V still work, though)

    • qqp says:

      It really annoys me that Ctrl-F in Microsoft Outlook forwards email instead of performing a text search. I don’t know how many times I’ve hit that key combo by mistake. It’s a big productivity waste for me and also makes me utter rude things about Bill Gates and his cronies.

  56. tinyinkling says:

    I occasionally do work looking at lots of web pages quickly. Alt+F4 is very nice for shutting a window (like a browser window spawning pop-ups) quickly. Alt+PrtScn will make a copy of your current window and put it on the clipboard for pasting into a program which can handle graphics — such as Thunderbird (handy for sending error codes to tech support). And Ctrl++/- will biggify/smallify text in a browser. 

  57. librtee_dot_com says:

    Couple other good ones:

    ctrl+tab: switch tabs inside web browser
    windows+tab: hyper alt-tab, in win7 or esp. in Linux running the fabulous Compiz ‘ring switcher’ tool.

    For both of these, add ‘shift’ to go backwards.

  58. Guest says:

    ಠ_ಠ

  59. MrEricSir says:

    “Mission Control” in OS X Lion is pretty much the greatest thing ever.  You can activate it three ways, see all your windows and desktops, switch between windows, and move windows from one desktop to another.

    All in one incredibly simple feature.

  60. Amanda Lane says:

    When my school(s) were “teaching” us computer usage they made us go to the menus for everything. I actually got in trouble for using shortcut keys in class. (Now I think that they were just mad that I knew more about the computer than they did.)

  61. Did you know 30% off all statistics are made up…? An article like this is nice, but everything that starts with, “Did you know that X of all Y dont Z” I usually take with a grain of salt as they say.

  62. pyster says:

    I amazed a co worker weeks ago with shift-tab.

    I remember when I discovered ctrl-z… it made me feel like a freaken noob. was really happy to find ctrl-a when logged into a cisco device. Hacked that one. I’d been hip to ctrl-a foreverz.

    recently someone i respect didnt know about alt-print screen.

    how any one functions without ctlf-f is beyond me.

  63. Virgil McGee says:

    I’m not sure why this is so surprising. I think there’s a common misconception about using a computer; if you use one every day, your knowledge of it will expand to encompass all sorts of things. I see this a lot in discussions of why kids should use computers in schools. The assumption is that computer use will help kids somehow become better students, and prepare them for the future. But the college kids I’m around all day, who’ve been using computers their entire lives, are for the most part computer illiterate. Sure, they can use the internet and a few software tools proficiently, but that’s it.

    People only seem to learn the bare minimum they need to accomplish their work, and no more.

  64. Nadreck says:

    Most of this ignorance is a result of how computers are introduced to people: they’re plugging in and turned on – the end.  No training of any kind is ever dreamed of, or in the rare cases where it is, no one bothers to find out how the people concerned learn things.  Reading?  Listening?  Doing?  It’s the equivalent of letting people drive by giving them their first car by turning on the ignition, plopping them behind the wheel and yelling “there you go!”

    It’s hardly surprising then, given the craptastic desktop interfaces that we have these days (which haven’t changed or improved since the 80s), that people have little to no productivity increases as a result of having a computer dumped on their desk.  To my knowledge there have only been about 3 studies ever done as regards the economics of introducing computers into the office and they all found against the computer.

    The worst cases are, as noted above, due to some people who wear their ignorance as a badge of honour and also to some people who have a hysterical fear of computers but in the main it’s due to the refusal of the industry to spend one penny on user training or documentation.

    BTW – there’s little point in listing hundreds of keyboard short-cuts in this blog.  David Pogue did a column in the New York Times about how most computer interface shortcuts are only knowable through folklore and word-of-mouth.  The entry surpassed all previous records for comments received as thousands of people recorded arcane shortcuts possibly previous known only to themselves.  I picked up several that even I, with decades of experience, had never heard of.

  65. Minae Lee says:

    Using CTRL+Click to make multiple selections when the selections aren’t all adjacent to each other.

    • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

      Or shift+click to select a section.  In some text editors holding alt allows you to select the corner of a selection rectangle so you can manipulate blocks of text.  Very hand for, say, selecting all the begining text from a chunk of repeating code.

      When I showed the alt trick to a coworker he practically jumped for joy.

  66. Minae Lee says:

    I use Windows+D a lot, also. 

  67. hypnosifl says:

    Anyone have a list of such commands for Macs? I tried both control-F and command-F and they didn’t seem to do anything (edit: never mind, command-F does open up a little search bar on top, but I’d still like a general list of useful commands for macs if anyone has it)

    • lhl says:

      If you go into the “Keyboard” System Preferences pane, there’s a Keyboard Shortcuts section that should help you get started. I always like to enabled “Full Keyboard Access” there btw, makes tabbing work more like it should.  Note: you can make/customize your own keyboard shortcuts there, which can be an absolute godsend when you need it.

      Trying searching for “mac common keyboard shortcuts

  68. Their feldspars says:

    Some people positively hate spending 10 seconds to learn something that’ll save them hours in the long run. I don’t have to listen to you. Why should I have to study all that geek stuff? I don’t wanna. Only people with too much time on their hands are able to learn all these tricks to do everything ten times faster.

    • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

      I think people who act like that are doing one or both of these:

      1. I hate doing this so I refuse to learn any more than I must to do it.  I don’t want to become proficient at it either.  This is my way of rebelling against it.

      2. I don’t want to learn it because then I won’t be able to get you to do it for me and always be helping me.  I like the attention.

      • Their feldspars says:

        Can you show me how you make a new folder again? I can’t remember, and you’re so good at it.

      • Their feldspars says:

        I don’t know what you did with that folder thing, but now my computer seems to be a lot slower. I think you broke it. Can you fix that for me?

  69. Keith says:

    It’s been my experience that many users are amazed that you can even have more than one program running at once.

  70. Minae Lee says:

    Really simple one I rarely see anyone use: hitting the space bar to scroll down. Shift+space to scroll up. Easier than using page up/page down keys or a mouse when my fingers are positioned for typing. Also: if a button is selected on a page, using space or enter to click that button.

    Windows+R for Run.

    Alt+Space+X will maximize a window.

    Let’s not forget using Alt+F to get up to the File menu (or Alt+E for the Edit menu, etc), then typing in the underlined letter/using arrow keys to get to the option you want, in case you’ve forgotten a shortcut or there isn’t a keyboard shortcut for a menu option. I rarely ever use mice…

  71. Eddie Perkins says:

    One of my favorites that’s incredibly easy but surprisingly few people seem to know about is the Tab key. Just the Tab key. Click it to jump to the next link on a page or the next field of a form. It amazes me when people don’t know things like this. 

    Though, sadly, it’s not quite as useful to me anymore since in Chrome Tabbing through links doesn’t highlight the links as reliably many other browsers did.

    Edit: Whoops. I just saw someone beat me to Tab. In that case, I’ll just mention the seemingly forgotten Home, End, Page Up and Page Down buttons. Surprisingly, they do what they say.

  72. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    Best of all, alt-f4 to just say to heck with it all.

  73. Rayonic says:

    This really puts the rise of the iPad in perspective.
    Computer geeks decry that you can’t do as much with a tablet as with a PC, and that doing simple tasks is slower. Well apparently not for 90% of the population. 

  74. Andrew Etringer says:

    I absolutely despise the use of my mouse, and avoid it at all cost.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_keyboard_shortcuts#Command_line_shortcuts

  75. Kehnin Dyer says:

    the proper way to search is not / nor F3 nor ctrl-f 
    it is grep

  76. adamnvillani says:

    Maybe instead of mocking and berating the 90% of computer users who don’t know all of these keyboard shortcuts, maybe computer geeks could think of how to better get the word out and educate people. Oh, I’m sorry, the rest of us are just supposed to read the programmers’ minds.

    • RoofusKit says:

      Maybe you should take the time to educate yourself. About 30 seconds of menu browsing in ANY windows program will reveal many “hidden programmer secrets.” Making no effort to learn is making an effort to be ignorant. As others have said, I have no pity for that lot.

      • adamnvillani says:

        My point is that if 90% of the users don’t know about these things (and I know about some of them, not all of them), then maybe the fault lies with the computer programmers and designers who failed in making products that people could understand. And how are people supposed to know to search for these shortcuts if they don’t know they exist in the first place?

        My point stands – the BoingBoing readership worships at the altar of Edward Tufte for user-friendliness when designing graphs, but somehow we’re all supposed to be experts when it comes to computer applications. If 90% of readers were misinterpreting a graph, we’d rightly place the blame at the feet of the designer.

        But no, it’s easier just to declare the rest of the world that doesn’t share your interests as a bunch of morons.

    • nosehat says:

      Oh, I’m sorry, the rest of us are just supposed to read the programmers’ minds.

      There’s actually much easier things to read, if you want to give yourself a basic, minimal education about how to use the tools you use daily:

      1) All the software you are likely to use has a “Help” button right up on the main menu.  Click it, then read what you find there for an hour or so.  Start with the “Getting Started” section, if you’re not sure where to start.

      2) Try using your favorite internet search engine to find some information about using your favorite software, like this.

      3) Go to your local library or book store.  Ask the librarian / clerk to help you find a book to help a beginner use the software.  Actually read the book.

      I’m not trying to be snarky, but the fact is that “how to use computers” information didn’t just magically show up in “computer geek’s” minds.  Everyone that you know who knows how to use computers initially sat down and educated themselves, probably using one of the steps I’ve listed above.  It’s not that hard to do, and it’s not something you should be afraid of.

      maybe computer geeks could think of how to better get the word out and educate people.

      I’m sorry, but it’s not my responsibility to “get the word out and educate” you, just because I’ve invested the small amount of time to learn some things that are right there at your own fingertips if you just bother to look for them.

    • Pete Allen says:

      yeah, but if they did that a lot of tech support jobs would be rendered redundant and computer geeks wouldn’t feel special…

  77. jphilby says:

    At the risk of sounding like a troll: retarded people have my sympathies. Then there are those whose intelligence is handicapped *by choice*. Then, at the amoeba level, there are those who *brag about it*. No sympathies whatsoever.

    Why bother to own a computer, or even a typewriter, or even a clay tablet? There are rocks everywhere to scribble on. Oh, sorry rock-lovers.

  78. RoofusKit says:

    I find those kind of people just don’t pay attention to their surroundings. They often purposefully only learn the bare minimum of knowledge needed to complete tasks on the computer. About 30 seconds of exploring menus will show you ctrl+f.

  79. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    There are all kinds of computer users.  To some it’s just an appliance and they don’t care to be involved beyond the minimum necessary to make it do what they want.  Others have to get under the hood and exhaustively investigate every aspect.  I started ‘in computers’ in the ’70s with a tech background.  Lately I’m glad that more data devices are dumbed down for the casual user.  And for those who obsess over the minutia, hey, it’s just another consumer product created by humans.  It’s not a mysterious alien artifact full of magic.

  80. Ernesto says:

    Weirdest thing is having to explain that you’re supposed to hold down ‘ctrl’, then press ‘f’, then release both. It’s funny when they try to get them simultaneously though.

  81. adamnvillani says:

    I know about all that crap. Now are you going to go around the world and just berate everyone personally, or are you going to think that maybe the programmers who come up with these things might consider how to communicate their discoveries with the world? Because from the 90% failure rate, it’s evident they haven’t figured it out yet.

    In my line of work, when we realize the public isn’t understanding what we’re doing, we realize we need to communicate better. And we realize that it’s understandable, since we do what we do professionally and they don’t.

    From the comments on this thread, though, it’s apparent that the preferred method for computer programmers is a circle-jerk on a geek blog where they just congratulate ourselves on how smart they are and how dumb everyone else is.

  82. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Not reading documentation is coded into human DNA.  I bust people for misusing equipment, generally before something breaks or explodes, and my reward is to write training over the weekend and run a class.  This Monday it’s propane powered steam sprayers.  That would have been an interesting disaster if I hadn’t wandered by and pushed the panic button.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Not reading documentation is coded into human DNA.

      I read the manual/notes/FAQs for almost everything that I have to deal with. This apparently makes me a wizard, based on the reactions that I get when I know how things work.

      • ROSSINDETROIT says:

        I like manuals.  I load necessary ones onto a thumb drive.  When I have to visit a busted machine and I get an “I didn’t know that” excuse for misuse I can print a copy of the docs on the spot, hand it over and make them sign for it.  But that’s more a matter of accountability than of knowing convenience features in software.
        IBM Mainframes have the best manuals ever created.  Solve a CICS application core dump in about 7 steps, just like they anticipated every wildly improbable failure and carefully wrote, organized and indexed a solution for when it happened.

  83. relawson says:

    oh, and also using Vista or 7 the windows key + 1 through 9 will open the app pinned to the taskbar. the one on the far left is 1, the next one is 2, etc…

  84. Their feldspars says:

    “Maybe the programmers who come up with these things might consider how to communicate their discoveries with the world…”

    If only there were some sort of a…some sort of a thing that could answer a person’s questions…some kind of a device that could instantly get you information when you needed it. Imagine if you could just type in “keyboard shortcuts” into a machine on your desk, and the information would appear, on some sort of a TV screen or whatever.

    Programmers, you should make something like that!

    • adamnvillani says:

      That’s my point. It’s all there, but the word isn’t getting out. We’ve all well established that the info is out there if someone knows to look for it and knows how to look for it. But having the information available if someone knows to look for it and how to look for it is not the same as communicating that information, as evidenced by the statistic that started this discussion.

      How many people even know keyboard shortcuts exist? How many know that they’re called “keyboard shortcuts?” How many people have tried using the “Help” files on computers, found them consistently unhelpful, and given up trying?

    • adamnvillani says:

      That’s my point. We’ve well established that these shortcuts exist and that they’re out there if people know about them and where to look for them. But having the information out there is not the same as communicating that information to people.

      How many people even know about keyboard shortcuts? How many people even know they’re called “keyboard shortcuts”? How many people have tried using “Help” functions, found them consistently unhelpful, and stopped trying?

      This is not a problem with an engineering solution; the keyboard shortcuts work. This is a computer education problem and an interface design problem.

  85. adamnvillani says:

    Gaaah Disqus has been crappy all day. Obviously the above pseudo-double-post was an attempt to post followed by an evident failure to post, followed by an attempt to re-create the post, followed by both posts appearing.

    At least Disqus seems to be aware of the problem: http://status.disqus.com/

  86. a ø says:

    I recently taught my dad and brother ctrl-f. They’ve both been using computers for at least 20 years.

  87. Rick. says:

    F3 in Firefox.  Much simpler. (Ctrl-F works, too.)

  88. PeaceLove Love says:

    Huh. Ctrl + F. 

    Huh.

  89. bcsizemo says:

    Odd, I had scathing little reply by lakawak…

    Are the mods clamping down on the trolling tonight?  if so +1 internets for all!

  90. kP says:

    While it is a lovely notion to share these Ctrl-Key combinations, the fact is if you have ever taught the same someone how to use Copy and Paste (^C ^V) a couple dozen times, you tend to shy away from this form of evangelism.

  91. mamayama says:

    I use my computer daily, but not for many hours…so many of these shortcuts (NOT command F, which I use all the time) would take up more time in learning/remembering them than they’re worth to me.  Fortunately, I’m aware that when I get sick of doing a task a certain way over and over…there’s probably a shortcut, at which point I’m motivated to google it…THEN I’ll use it and remember it! But learning shortcuts before I have need of them is pointless; I forget them before they become useful.  

    The main things to teach are: WHEN you should look something up, and WHERE to find it.  And alas, many folks don’t learn either one…but that’s why we get paid the big bucks, right? ;-)  Chance are, those folks also know how to do some other things much better than you…because they cared enough about them to learn, and had the opportunity to do so.  

    But yes: a number of these shortcuts should definitely be taught and PRACTICED in schools, and students made aware how to find the others when they need them.

  92. Curmudgeon says:

    You know what still gets eyes amazed? Click followed by Shift+Click to select groups of things.

  93. Curmudgeon says:

    Another trick I’ve used on Macs. Triple click on a word in a paragraph to highlight the *entire* paragraph.

    Command-H to hide my programs and leave them running, where I Command-Tab to switch to another. I can’t bear stacks upon stacks of windows overlaying each other except for windows of just that program I’m in. And with a 27″ screen, full screen except for a tiny few programs makes any sense (full screen web browsing? *eyes explode*) Adobe fucks this up because they believe they know better than standard Mac practices and chose to remap Command-H to something else.

    And for new Mac Users? The ultimate brain bender . . . Command-Q (The number of new mac users that believe the red X in the corner of the window *quits* the program is upwards of 90%+)

  94. Kozmund says:

    I honestly can’t decide which post to reply to, so I’m going to simply respond to the various ideas I see expressed.

    1) I can see where the various people being confrontational about UI design and computer education are coming from. It’s certainly true that HCI as a field have made advances in interface design which have not been adopted outside of niche circumstances. That it’s non-obvious to some users how to use keyboard shortcuts can be construed as the fault of the interface. We can rail on about documentation, user inclination, etc. The real point as I see it is illustrated perfectly by all of the “X didn’t know Y, and they work as a Z!” comments,

    The real point is that *you don’t need to know keyboard shortcuts to use these interfaces!* You don’t actually need to know and memorize these things to use a browser, a word processor, a modern computer in general.

    2) I understand, on some level, the anger being expressed by some people over the dismissive “You don’t ctrl-tab, newb?” comments. I wouldn’t expect anyone in particular to know any given quicker solution in interfacing with some software. It’s hubris to assume superiority because one has committed the grey-matter real estate to recall shift reversal, where another person has used that brain space to the correct sandpaper grit order to get the best surface out of rosewood. The real problem here is the disdain, not the fact that there are ways to interact with software that don’t take up screen real estate. As a user of vim and bash, I understand this well.

    I’ve never had any people scoff that I didn’t know their way of doing things but self righteous twits. In the circles I run, suggestions about the quickest way to accomplish something in vim or the most rapid way of getting at your bash history are friendly an helpful. Depending on how frequently one has to accomplish a given task, the knowledge can rapidly disappear.


    TL;DR, in bash, ctrl-r allows you to start typing and brings up the most recent command in history that matches your string. Sure, it’s not as versatile as “history | grep XXX” but for 94% of how I use bash’s history stuff, it’s much quicker.

  95. GrrrlRomeo says:

    I use keyboard commands and my mouse simultaneously. The keyboard alone isn’t always the fastest way. Alt+Tab doesn’t seem to be faster than just clicking on the window I want to switch to on the taskbar.

    But honestly, the reason I learn shortcuts is because I’m lazy. “There has to be an easier/faster way to do this” is my motivation, not “I would like to be a more efficient and proficient computer user.”

    Yes, Ctrl+F is my friend…because I’m lazy.

  96. I think it could be slightly misleading, as I think it’s showing how many people know that Control+F brings up Find, rather than how many people instinctively do it or can do it without being able to communicate that the action they are doing is ‘Control+F’.  A better test would be to ask them to search for text in a web page and see how many can and can’t.

  97. erin jones says:

    I’ve been an interface designer since the times when apps were mostly delivered on floppy, laser discs and CD-ROMS. Yup, the multimedia era. I’m sure I am one of thousands of BB members who created interfaces throughout this particular phase in history.

    I’ve designed interfaces that literally millions of people have used. I design interfaces that allow people to do what they need to do as quickly and as easily as possible without having to distract themselves with the tool they’re using. That is my purpose as a UX designer: to make information accessible, choices intuitive and work hours fruitful.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard smart, canny, patient people say “I don’t understand computers. I’m just too dumb.” I hate hearing people berate themselves for someone else’s bad UI design. These are not stupid people, and many of them have read the manual/readme/third-party books. 

    I’ve heard that phrase in almost 20 years of focus groups, in conversations with 16-30 y.o.’s and with 60-98 y.o.’s. (I have also spent many, many hours doing IT for seniors. Yes, it can be frustrating when Bernie asks you for the 56th time, “What’s that hard drive thing again? How do I find it?” But Bernie is also smart as shit and served as a WWII intelligence officer with a linguistics background. True story, he’s one of the guys I work with in a retirement home I volunteer at.) There’s a difference between being stupid and choosing to use one’s time in a focussed manner.

    Listen, it’s fine if you really dig computers and want to get the most out of your machine(s). But millions of other people want to use their computers as tools to make their jobs and communication easier. Please don’t scorn them. Being naturally good at something, or liking it enough to the point where you spend hours studying it, does not equate to being a better person. It just means you’re passionate about something.

    Many non-shortcut users are passionate as well… about marine biology, Moorish architecture, sewer systems, the history of the Soviet Union, the perfect martini, the history of Balkan conflict, etc. If only this were widely recognized. Poorly designed interfaces not only cost companies money, they also hinder scholarship, social communication and the creation of knowledge banks like Wikipedia.

    • arikol says:

      That is really the thing that computer people don’t get, that the fact that someone has no interest in spending hours upon hours exploring programs does not mean that they are stupid. In fact, I prefer that my doctor spends his time doing other stuff such as reading up on research or practicing his golf stroke.

      And many of these things that are mentioned are not intuitive or obvious in any way. Keyboard shortcuts in a GUI aren’t obvious, and those that are not shown anywhere are downright arcane (such as alt-tab and other such commands that are not shown in all the menus). I’ve seen otherwise computer savvy people not know common shortcuts, and people who use computers every day that don’t understand the hierarchical file system concept. And they’re not stupid.Computers aren’t obvious, or nice to use. They’re full of badly thought out concepts and controls that were designed (or in many cases just made as the need arose without any sort of real design) for a user base of engineers and enthusiasts. Oftentimes even just made based on what key combination was available, or based on memory requirements, or so that it is possible to display it on a 200×200 monochrome display…

      And we’re still using many of these designs today… even now that we know better, and have the hardware to DO better.

      • noah django says:

        not to mention that the keyboard layout itself was designed so that the most-used letters would be far enough apart so that the arms with the little metal type on them wouldn’t get stuck together if you typed faster than hunt-and-peck on the original carriage/ribbon/paper typewriter.  not for ease of use or any other logical metric.  don’t get me started on caps lock.

        “computers use digital information, which can be accessed in a non-linear fashion.  how should humans interface with this new computer?
        “how ’bout a typewriter keyboard from a century ago?”
        [facepalm]

        so the whole argument ITT is–Inception-style–built around a whole second-layer of derp that everyone has mostly forgotten.

        but anyway, I like this thread, pro and con.  good points, arikol.

        • 秀平 月 says:

          There are people who use caps lock all the time (not me though); it does have its legitimate uses. Also, how do you think people should write their EULAs without it? ;-)

          • noah django says:

            no, not that.  my gripe is:  on the original typewriter, you had to mash the hell out of that key so that it would physically lock the carriage upward (the capital letters were above the lowercase on the hammer thingies.)  there was no *accidentally* hitting the caps lock then having to delete and start over.  or hitting it when you needed it, then going to another field and not noticing that it was still engaged.   but it was on the original keyboard, so IBM etc just put it on the computer keyboard, too.  and it’s still there, instead of a switch or something more goof-proof.

            maybe I’m just weird.

  98. 5onthe5 says:

    I work as a teacher, where many not-very-computer-literate people are working with files and making resources etc. Three things I have taught the most people:

    1. Re-ordering files in Windows Explorer / My Computer by clicking at the top of the date / name columns, thereby making files easier to browse.

    2. “Align” in PowerPoint, making your worksheets look nicer! “Distribute” is for advanced users.

    I have also pointed out to many colleagues that they can get their email much faster by clicking the “Outlook” button on the desktop, rather than going in through webmail when actually AT work.

    Most people don’t know CTRL+C / V, so it doesn’t surprise me that most people don’t know CTRL+F. Many people don’t understand tabbed browsing in my experience.

  99. Jim Smith says:

    I told a staff member that an arrow on an Outlook Express email meant that she had replied to it. She was so happy. She had been using it for a long time too.

    This is a big reason Apple products are so popular; they are literally child’s play to use. My 3 year old niece is quite comfortable using the camera and browsing pictures and videos on an Iphone.

  100. Keith Tyler says:

    a smart and technologically literate friend had never heard of alt-tab

    Yeah, I’m having a real hard time with that one there. Methinks your criteria are out of whack. Sorry but reading lots of Wired (and Mondo back in the day) etc. (just a guess) does not make one “smart and technologically literate.”

    But I do know a great way to improve his computers performance. Open Notepad, and type “DELE C:/WINDOWS…” (stop me if you’ve heard this one).

  101. Jim Smith says:

    Many keyboards now have X, C, V labelled Cut, Copy and Paste with a matching symbol on the CTRL key.

  102. 秀平 月 says:

    People obviously manage to use their computers just fine, even without using these keyboard shortcuts. There are probably a million things you do that would make a professional cringe; think about how painfully slow and awkwardly many of you use knifes to cut up food.

    Also, if there is some vital feature that normal people don’t know how to use, I blame the interface, not the person using it.

  103. Ian Hopping says:

    I can’t believe the arrogance of some people here.  Actually I can, tech people need to understand computers are a tool, not the be all and end all to which everyone should commit their lives.  I didn’t know Ctrl+F.  I was aware of it in a vague sort of way but just haven’t bothered to commit it to memory.  Turns out that even though I haven’t done that I am not a dribbling vegetable incapable of feeding myself, as some here seem to thing (“Scratch on rocks” because someone doesn’t use keyboard short cuts? Get over your self, kid).  Even though I prefer to use the mouse rather than the short cuts I do know I doubt that it has caused any loss of productivity.  Usually having to reposition my hands from mouse to keyboard takes more time than actually selecting the menu.

    Why the hell would I use Alt-Tab, except when a full screen program freezes?  Its annoying having to cycle through programmes, when I CAN PICK THEM EASILY FROM THE TASK BAR.

  104. Ray Perkins says:

    My wife still asks (a year after getting her her own computer) “Do I click that once or twice?”. Or “Where did it go? What have I done?” Explaining a shortcut would only lead to grief or divorce, I’m afraid.

  105. travtastic says:

    Really, I can understand now knowing how to do something, like Ctrl+F here.

    But for people to say “I don’t have time for these things!!1!”? Seriously? It saves you time. And you just learned it by reading this page.

  106. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    QWERTY sucks and we’re stuck with it.  But think about how a computer is actually used in terms of hours.  Would a more efficient key layout really make that much of a difference?  Most of us aren’t composing lots of text, and if we were, upping max speed from 100 WPM to 120 WPM or whatever is merely incremental.
    I learned to type on an IBM dumb terminal as a programmer and spent X * 10^4 hours doing that.  Because of all of the special function keys I had to look at the keyboard and never learned to touch type.  I can go Really Fast, but not while looking at the screen.

    • noah django says:

      exactly!  which is why it sucks to unknowingly have caps lock engaged and not see that you’re yelling until you finish your thought and look up at the screen.

      • ROSSINDETROIT says:

        That happens to me all the time.  I have to use locked caps to type some info like part numbers, forget to un-lock, and frequently end up composing WHOLE SENTENCES OF UNINTENTIONAL SHOUTING.  Which I have to re-type.  I’d love to have a keyboard shortcut that would let me invert the case of a block of text.  That would be a time saver.
        maybe I just need a brighter caps-lock LED on the kbd so I don’t make that mistake.  Or a buzzer or something.

        • noah django says:

          again, we are simpatico.  I’ve often wondered if there was a shortcut like you described, and even considered mentioning it last post.

          I’ve used one of those old label makers to make a string of #s (the bumpiest character included on mine) to stick on the caps lock in the past.  oughta do that on my present machine, come to think of it.

          also, when I lived with my grandparents, I was a 12mile and Greenfield kid.  Keep reppin’ the D!

          • ROSSINDETROIT says:

            I live 2 miles from 12mi & G’fld as the pigeon flies.  Not actually in Detroit but close to the Zoo.

          • srs says:

            I’ve had daydreams before of making the Caps Lock key do something else entirely,, possible?

          • uildaan says:

            Yep, search google for a keyboard remapping program, plenty of good free ones out there. I’ve remapped caps lock as a second backspace button and its a vast improvement. Then I set capslock as the right hand windows key which I never used

          • Miss Angela says:

            I used to physically remove the Capslock key from my keyboard, but my work didn’t think much of that solution. Now I just remap it to be another Shift key, since 99% of the time when I hit Capslock I am just trying to shift anyway.

          • Philipshade says:

             I think the google notebook replaces it with a search key

        • Little John says:

          A buzzer? Microsoft is nothing if not immediately responsive to the wishes of its customers. Heh.

          In (at least some versions of) Windows, you can set a beep to occur when you (possibly inadvertently) turn the toggle keys (Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, Num Lock) on or off. I still do the look-up-and-see-what-gibberish-I’ve-been-typing thing, same as you described, but I do it a lot less with the caps set wrong (usually it’s using the wrong keyboard language, or it’s just all in the wrong place).

          Look for (your OS’s equivalent of) Settings/Control Panel/Accessibility Options. If you’re not using Windows, I don’t know what to tell you. Possibly MS copied the idea from Apple anyway, though, and Macs have it (somewhere), too.

        • DewiMorgan says:

          “I’d love to have a keyboard shortcut that would let me invert the case of a block of text.”

          With AutoHotkey, I wrote an app that would wait until you hit caps-lock. Then it would send ctrl-c to copy the selected block of text, and then check the length of that. If it was zero-length (ie, you had no text selected) it would act like a regular caps lock key. Otherwise, it would cycle between lower case, Title Case, UPPER CASE and whatever the original case was. (it backed up and restored the clipboard so it didn’t blat that, of course).

          Annoyingly, though, too many apps would copy the current line if you had nothing selected, so I stopped using it, because it would bork in those cases :(

          If anyone knows how to tell, in Windows, whether some text is currently selected in the focused window, then I can make that util actually be useful. Until then, it’s only useful about 90% of the time. Still, willing to share even that, if you’re interested – it’s an easy enough script.

  107. Ben Burger says:

    I didn’t know this, since there is not exactly a guide on shortcut keys, crtl+F will be very useful, thanks BB

  108. krisindallas says:

    I’m no techie and happy to stay that way, but I do have a tedious job that requires keyboard shortcuts if I am to come any where close to the production numbers (yes, you read that correctly) I need to keep it.  There are plenty of people on my account who not only can’t use the shortcuts but are a little challenged when it comes to a mouse. Yes, it rankles a bit that I need to spend some extra time when they need help waiting  patiently while they fumble about and try and guide them in terms they will understand because I know not everyone, including myself, finds computer literacy to be the standard of all virtue.  So, most of you just keep patting yourselves on the back and maybe one of you will even put up a post somewhere that instructs people on what all the ctl/alt/c/a/f and wtfgad’s mean. 

  109. kromelizard says:

    I run a bookstore and have learned that the average college student cannot even be expected to reliably alphabetize or count and those things are explicitly taught as foundational skills in kindergarten. Ray Kroc figured this out about people a long time ago, you can only expect the average person to respond to and execute the simplest of instructions so it’s best to put flashing lights and buzzers on the things they have to do.

  110. hardtoport says:

    Why don’t 90% know this shortcut?  Maybe because, for 90% of the users, Ctrl F isn’t important?  I’ve been using PC’s since the 80′s and I can count on my hand how many times I’ve needed to find a certain word on a page of information.  I’m more interested in why people search for specific words on a page on such a frequent basis as to need to know this shortcut. 

    In the universe of shortcuts, I suspect that Ctrl X,C,V are the best know because people doing a lot of copying/pasting in their computer work and these truely are time savers.

    I will say that the Winkey + Tab combo mentioned here was pretty neat and something I will probably incorporate in my shortcut list going forward.

  111. Troy Heagy says:

    Well I grew-up in the Commodore=64 era, where everything was typed, but in today’s world I think it’s easier to use the mouse, especially if you don’t have your keyboard in front of you (like laying on the coffee table).

    Using the tab bar at the bottom (to switch tasks) or using Edit-Find work just as well for me as reaching to the keyboard, stretching out my fingers, and pushing the right combos. 

  112. Their feldspars says:

    You know, I’m thinking that the issue isn’t so much one of knowing the secret shortcuts. Russell seems to be saying that 90% of users don’t seem to be aware at all that their browser/word processor/etc. can find a word for them–they don’t seem to be aware of the features of the menu that’s at the top of the screen at all. How can this be?

    Maybe it’s a perceptual thing. Some people don’t understand that the computer is a machine that can do work for them. It’s more like a TV that they are forced to type things into. They don’t even have the expectation that it could be helpful.

  113. Mim says:

    I don’t know how I’d ever comment here if I didn’t use ctrl (or apple) f. I like to make sure I’m not just repeating someone else’s comment. 

    I’m no longer shocked by things like this — I teach computer skills daily as a librarian. But I am shocked that every time I share a post like this, one of my very smart friends (a different one each time, typically) comments about how it’s news to them. Adblock (and similar add-ons) is another one that it seems very few of my friends use, no matter how frequently I see people sharing info about it.

  114. David Jansson says:

    I didn’t know this. Thank you very much!

  115. alphaxion says:

    Windows key + f brings up the file search dialogue in Windows machines.

    However, if you use windows key + e you’d bring up Explorer, take some time to learn folder management and you’d never need to use the search dialogue again as you’d know where everything is and make migration to a new machine so much easier.

    It bugs me that people outright refuse to manage their data then bitch about not being able to find it, running out of HDD space (because they have 15 copies of the same stuff all over the place) and losing data either between system upgrades or just in general.

  116. Terranex says:

    Don’t forget in Windows Vista and Windows 7, Windows Key + Tab will get you a silly 3D window switcher.

  117. Martin Jansson says:

    The sole reason most people use MS Windows instead of Linux or a BSD derivates (like OSX), even if they tried something different then MS Windows, is that they don’t know about CTRL++ or CTRL+-.

    Microsoft applications and OS, in all their sneakiness, display, as default, text larger then it “is” (larger then it would be printed out on paper), while other systems as default use “the real size” (that is, you could use a physical ruler on the screen to see how large the text would be in print). When people try to use a Linux or BSD derivate, they find squinting at the screen exhausting and quickly change back to MS Windows, because they have never learned that every damn application worth a dime have a zoom function.

    Since MS Windows set a limit for how large size you can use with system text (text used for menus, window borders et c.), the users have also never learned that they also could make system text as big as they want in most user interfaces based on the X Windows system (but not in OS X, since that would be repugnant to the (in)famous Steve Jobs esthetics). Instead people with just slightly poor eyesight use a clunky “screen magnifier” that follows the pointer (on a sane computer system, a screen magniifer is only needed by  people who are nearly blind).

    Another result of that in MS Windows and OS X you can’t use large size system fonts, is that many people use lower resolution on the screen (to make text bigger,  as ridiculous as it might sound to someone who have never used Microsoft software, that makes text bigger in MS Windows, because Microsoft don’t care about keeping sizes consistent in different screen resolutions, because MS Windows is a dysfunctional toy OS) then their hardware can manage. Lower resolution means harder to read text, then if the text would be if in the same size in higher resolution. Oh, and MS Windows have a software limit for how high resolution you can use, even if your hardware (screen and graphics card) could display higher resolutions, another reason not to use MS Windows. Unfortunatly very few graphics cards and computer screens are nowadays made that is able to display higher resolutions then MS Windows support (and as their demand is small, their prices are high), so their limitations flow over to all of us that doesn’t use that third rate system. Damn you Microsoft, damn you to hell.

    Another result of that MS Windows (and some web browsers on other platforms, like Safari) displaying text much bigger then it really is, is that many web-pages, e.g. boingboing.net, use font sizes that are ridiculously small.

    • Little John says:

      Thanks for your post. I’m wondering if anything in it is true, though.

      Microsoft applications and OS … display, asdefault, text larger then it “is” (larger then it would be printed out on paper).

      Do you have a reference I can look at so I can believe this?

      [I]n MS Windows and OS X you can’t use large size system fonts

      This one’s even harder to accept. Your opening paragraph/sentence already took the cake, though.

      If enough of us agree to pile on with you and say “Microsoft stinks” once, will you cut down on the wild (and as yet unverified) statements?

  118. Wow, an article by someone who knows something about all the people out there who don’t know that something.  Guess what, what people don’t know is a lot larger than what people do know.  It’s not exactly a newsflash.

  119. the other way around can be true, actually i fell kind of  “handicapped” when and appliction doesnt follow a standart on shortcuts, if you ask me to find the “find” option on any major browser i’ll find it difficult…

    but i didnt need a research to realize that most people use a computer like they would use a rocket, if you find that surprising you really need a reality check, step back from the pc and look really hard at the world around you , nor just your neightboarhood

  120. I’ve been around a while.  I finally went to Windows at version 3.1.  I use shift-F10 for right-mouse-click most days at work.

    I doubt anyone here knows the answer, but the command I never found was the one for left-mouse-click. 

    Will

  121. Wow!  Autohotkey has a way to make Caps Lock work as left-mouse-click

    +CapsLock::SetCapsLockState, % GetKeyState( “CapsLock”, “T” ) ? “OFF” : “ON”
    CapsLock::LButton

  122. DewiMorgan says:

    In many programming editors, select a block of text and hit tab to indent. Hit shift-tab to unindent. So intuitive, but it’d never occurred to me to try, since in my mind that should replace the selected text with a tab character.

    Ctrl-Shift-L and Ctrl-Shift-U also often change between upper and lower case: but these vary more. You may need to check your editor’s documentation to find their combo.

    And yes – Ctrl-Z is the best combo ever.

  123. Their feldspars says:

    That’s Murphy’s Law, right there. 

  124. Their feldspars says:

    Brawndo was realkized, wasn’t it? Oh, I’m sorry, that was lectrolytes. Never mind.

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